Jockey Callan Murray’s hopes of a big-race winning return to Australian racing on Saturday were dashed when his mount, Ironclad, finished last in the A$107,250 Leon MacDonald Stakes at Morphettville.          

Interviewed before Saturday’s race, Kensington-born Murray was full of confidence after completing the mandatory two weeks quarantine. “I am very excited and didn’t expect to have the book of rides I’ve got,” he said.

“Trainer Will Clarken has given me great support and I’m very lucky to get the opportunities I have. I met Will when I was over in Melbourne when I was last over here,” said the 25-year-old.

Clarken saddled Ironclad and Second Slip in the MacDonald Stakes. Murray’s mount went to post having won his past four starts including consecutive listed race victories.

Second Slip saved the day for the Clarken stable by cruising home to beat Ritratto and Extreme Thrill, but the trainer was at a loss to explain Ironclad’s poor showing.

“I’m not sure about the horse just now, but something wasn’t right,” Clarken said. It is believed Murray’s mount may have gone lame during the race.

Evidence that Australian racing authorities are tough on any transgressions in the sport is evident with jockey Mark Zahra slapped with a three-month ban for breaking Covid-19 rules. He attended an illegal party in Victoria last Wednesday.

The stewards report on the ban stated: “The penalty must be seen to publicly make clear that compliance with the Covid-19 protocols is non-negotiable.”

Another SA jockey who has relocated overseas, Luke Ferraris, is set to make his Hong Kong debut when the season kicks off on September 5.

Ferraris had originally planned to try out Australia first, but those plans changed when he won grade 1 races in this country.

“There was always the line of thought that maybe he needed that step in Australia, but he kept blossoming in SA and with his connections here it just seemed to be the right peg in the right hole,” said Terry Bailey, Hong Kong Jockey Club’s licensing committee secretary.

Ferraris rode for the first time at the Sha-Tin racecourse last week. “My first morning on the track felt a little surreal. For a good part of my childhood I was on the ground walking next to my dad and now I’m on top of horses and living my dream.

“Obviously, growing up in Hong Kong I’ve seen how tough and competitive it is, but the more races I won in SA the more my confidence grew. If you’d asked me at the start of my career if I’d want to be in Hong Kong at 18 or 19, I probably would have laughed.”

Ferraris’s father, David, has been training successfully in the former British colony since 2004. Punters need to check the September 5 racecard carefully, he will likely have prepared a horse that can get his son off to a winning start.


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